State Reports Death In New Hanover County Related To West Nile Virus

State Reports Death In New Hanover County Related To West Nile Virus

State Reports Death In New Hanover County Related To West Nile Virus Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 31 October 2018 00:38

NEW HANOVER CTY - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has confirmed that a New Hanover County resident who recently died tested positive for West Nile virus.

The colder temperatures have decreased mosquito populations significantly and New Hanover County’s mosquito season is ending, so the public should not be alarmed.

“Our sympathy goes out to this family. Public Health will continue working diligently to monitor the mosquito populations in our county and educate our residents about mosquito prevention,” said New Hanover County Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “These infections are rare, but this is a reminder that the risk is present. We encourage residents to continue taking precautions when they are outside and be vigilant to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

Mosquitoes can spread a variety of diseases; and children, elderly, and immunocompromised populations are at the greatest risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who are infected with West Nile virus do not experience symptoms, or only have mild flu-like symptoms.
In October 2017, testing of the local mosquito pools confirmed one positive sample of West Nile Virus (WNV) in New Hanover County.

New Hanover County Health Department’s Vector Control monitors sites throughout the county, including coastal areas, for mosquito production and helps to control the mosquito population in the county through active surveillance, community education, and mosquito spraying.

“Human incidence of West Nile Virus is rare, but remains a dangerous disease. There is no cure and no vaccine available for people, so citizens should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites,” says New Hanover County Health Director Phillip Tarte. “Minimize unprotected outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk, the times during the day when mosquito activity peaks. Additional protective measures include applying insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. New Hanover County Health Department will continue proactive surveillance and control activities to identify mosquito-borne illnesses in an effort to protect our citizens and visitors of the county.”

The young, elderly, and immunocompromised populations are at greatest risk, and WNV can result in death. There are usually no symptoms in most people who become infected with WNV. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of WNV disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

Find more mosquito prevention tips and information on the Health Department’s website at http://health.nhcgov.com/ and learn more about West Nile virus on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

In July of this year, State health officials encouraged residents and visitors to take precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses following the death of a North Carolina resident from West Nile virus infection. That was the state’s first death from and first confirmed case of West Nile virus in 2018.

The individual was an adult living in the southeastern part of the state. To protect patient confidentiality, the department is not releasing additional details.

"These infections are rare, but this is a tragic reminder that they can be fatal," said State Public Health Veterinarian Carl Williams. "We see most cases of West Nile virus from July through November, but you can still enjoy the outdoors by reducing mosquito populations around your home and through proper use of repellents.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who become infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or a mild, flu-like illness. However, about 20 percent of people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. In about 1 percent of infections, West Nile virus can cause a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). West Nile virus is one of several mosquito-borne viruses that can be acquired in North Carolina. Other mosquito-borne viruses transmitted in the state that cause human illness include LaCrosse and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses. From 2012-2017, there were 25 reported cases of West Nile virus in the state and seven reported deaths.

There are no West Nile vaccines licensed for use in humans, and no medications to cure West Nile disease once a person is infected by a mosquito.
DHHS recommends the following precautions:
• Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent and apply according the manufacturer’s instructions.
Below are tips to help eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease:
• Remove any containers that can hold water, even a small amount, including saucers under flower pots. Check tarps, buckets, toys, trash cans, under decks, wheel barrels, kayaks/canoes, boats, pools, pipes, etc. for standing water and eliminate the potential for these items to hold water.
• Store out-of-service or un-mounted tires under cover to prevent the collection of any water.
• Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week.
• Keep gutters clean and in good repair, and repair leaky outdoor faucets.
• When possible, drain any standing water on your property such as puddles and ditches that hold water for more than a four days after rain.
• Make sure rain barrels have tight-fitting screens or lids.
• Use screened windows and doors, and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.

More information on the prevention of mosquito bites is available on the Division of Public Health’s website at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/arbo/prevent.html   and through the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html

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